The coinage of the Popes has been one of the most universally collected series for more than a century, commanding the visual attention of even the disinterested non-collector for its artistic impact and creative style.
At first ruling by default when the official government collapsed during the dark ages, the papacy continues today as one of the world’s few remaining functional medieval institutions. The role of the Pope as one of the key players of world events is as significant now as it was during the height of the Renaissance or as it was during the time of Attila the Hun.
Born Gregorio Chiaramonti, Pius VII had the distinction of pulling the Papal state out of the Napoleonic era intact. Chosen during a conclave forced to meet under Austrian protection, he lost no time moving to rome where he set up shop, and stayed until the French annexation of 1808. For six years he existed as a “guest” of the French government, until the final restoration of the Vatican City.